I can’t believe that this will be my 4th SharePoint Conference. The first one was kind of a blur (2006), as I was a new Microsoft employee and spent much of my time helping things run smoothly in the Hands on Lab, or talking to the handful of BPOS-Dedicated customers (back then we were still Microsoft Managed Services) find their way around the event and to connect with the right people (most of them were Energizer employees).
The second conference in 2008 was also a bit of a blur as I had changed roles, and did not have the opportunity to spend the entire week with my SharePoint friends and co-workers. I tried to slip into Bill Gate’s keynote, but as a blue badge, was turned away. I did manage to hear some of Jeff Teper’s comments. This was an exciting event because SharePoint had reached $1 Billion in revenue, and was growing at an incredible rate. I think it caught many at Microsoft by surprise. (It was also the event that echoTechnology would announce their ground-breaking echo for SharePoint 2007 platform)
By 2009, I had left Microsoft and was back in the SharePoint world working for echoTechnology, attending the much larger, much louder, much more kinetic SharePoint Conference in Las Vegas. I went in with a strategy to make connections and to learn as much as I could – and that strategy went very well. I made friends that week that I talk to on a regular (weekly) basis, and participated in a chain reaction of social computing activities that have helped make the SharePoint community strong.
So here I am two years later, with echo having been acquired by Axceler – another rapidly growing ISV with the number one product in the admin category (ControlPoint) and a soon-to-be dominant force in the migration category (Davinci). And lest we not forget, we still have the most powerful migration and change management tool you can buy for the 2007 platform: echo for SharePoint. But my goals for this event remain the same: to connect with people, to talk to customers, to build and renew friendships.
Don’t get me wrong – there will be some useful and relevant content and case studies at the conference. You definitely want to look through the schedule and attend as many sessions as you can, but I truly believe that the real value of this event will be in the people you meet, plain and simple.
My advice? Bring a box of business cards, bring your camera, put off any conference calls or internal meetings that you THINK you’ll be able to attend from the road, and prepare to lose some sleep. Be present, make yourself available, and engage with your fellow attendees. It will do more for your business (and your professional network) than any other event.
And be sure to stop by the Axceler booth and say hello. We’re also holding what will be the BIGGEST vendor party of the week on Wednesday night – Oktoberfiesta! Be sure to register, and see you there.